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Japonism’s Influence in Fashion & Art

The American tour Kimono Refashioned: 1870s-Now! opens October 13, 2018 at the Newark Art Museum showcasing the impact of Japanese garments, textiles, design and aesthetics on global fashions created by internationally recognized designers such as John Galliano, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen and Issey Miyake.

The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam
The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam

The exhibition, co-organized by the Kyoto Costume Institute and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, features more than 40 garments by more than 30 Japanese, European and American designers, underscoring the kimono’s influence in contemporary fashion.

The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam
The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam

Kimono has influenced global fashion since Japan opened to the world in the late 19th century. Motifs used to decorate kimono, its form and silhouette, and its two-dimensional structure and linear cut have all been refashioned into a wide array of garments.

The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam
The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyam

Kimono Refashioned will present dynamic and visually stunning manifestations of inter-cultural conversations between Japan and the West from the late 18th century through the lens of fashion,” said Interim Co-Director Ulysses Dietz.

The first section of Kimono Refashioned displays oil paintings by William Merritt Chase and Jacques-Joseph James Tissot from the late 1800s as early examples of the influence of kimono.

Kimono Refashioned displays oil paintings by William Merritt Chase and Jacques-Joseph James Tissot from the late 1800s as early examples of the influence of kimono.
Kimono Refashioned displays oil paintings by William Merritt Chase and Jacques-Joseph James Tissot from the late 1800s as early examples of the influence of kimono.

The next section accents Japonism in fashion from the late 19th century to the 1920s, when new garments were inspired by the motifs, shapes and cuts of kimono.

John Galliano Ensemble / Autumn/Winter 1994 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
John Galliano Ensemble / Autumn/Winter 1994 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

The third and largest portion of the exhibition explores contemporary fashion and its use of kimono’s flatness and silhouette, along with cutting-edge Japanese technologies–contemporary and historic–that were employed for weaving, dyeing and decorating textiles. The final section demonstrates how Japan continues to inspire the world of fashion through popular design, including manga and anime.

Raf Simmons Jacket, T-shirt, Trousers/ Autumn/Winter HC 2016 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
Raf Simmons Jacket, T-shirt, Trousers/ Autumn/Winter HC 2016 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
Iris van Herpen Dress / Autumn/Winter HC 2016 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
Iris van Herpen Dress / Autumn/Winter HC 2016 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

The Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) pioneered Japonism’s research in fashion focusing on innovative Japanese designers since the late 20th century. KCI systematically collects and preserves authentic samples of western clothing from each era, together with the underpinnings that shape the clothing, and pertinent documents that explicate the background.

Yohji Yamamoto Dress / Spring/Summer 1995 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama
Yohji Yamamoto Dress / Spring/Summer 1995 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

The collection currently ranges from the 17th century to the present day, with holdings of 12,000 items of clothing and 16,000 documents.

AC12555 C The Kyoto Costume Institute photo by Takashi Hatakeyama resized

The institute has received donations from some of today’s top designers and fashion houses such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and was presented with a gift of approximately 1,000 sets of clothing from Comme des Garçons.

Christian Louboutin Boots. Photo credit: The Kyoto Costume Institute
Christian Louboutin Boots. Photo credit: The Kyoto Costume Institute

The Newark Museum is the exclusive East Coast venue for this exhibition, where it will remain on view until January 6, 2019.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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